Wildflowers of Shark Bay
Parakeelya (Calandrinia sp.)
Shark Bay boasts a dazzling array of wildflowers. The best shows occur from July to September, when hundreds of species burst into bloom. They include pink parakeelya and tar vine; yellow geleznowia and featherflower; white pussytail, mulla-mulla and pigface; and red grevillea and clawflower. Along with blue and purple halgania, camel bush and climbing fringe lily, they put on a stunning display in the spring.
Shark Bay’s wildflowers attract admirers from all over the world. One early visitor was English explorer William Dampier, who collected plants from the region in 1699. He wrote: “The blossoms … were of several colours, as red, white, yellow, etc., but mostly blue; and these generally smelt very sweet and fragrant … and for the most part unlike any I had seen elsewhere.”
Field of Swainsona pterostylis and pompom heads (in background) near Hamelin Pool
Dampier was particularly impressed by the intense blue of a local fanflower, named hoary dampiera (Dampiera incana) in his honour. Dampier’s specimens of coastal thrypotomene (Thryptomene baeckeacea), a type of heath, are among the earliest European records of Australian plants.
Shark Bay’s wildflowers come in almost every colour imaginable. Some of the most striking and abundant are:
- Shark Bay daisy (Brachyscome latisquamea), a creeper that displays its large mauve to pink flowers well above surrounding shrubs.
- Tamala rose (Diplolaena grandiflora), a slightly fuzzy red to pink flower much favoured by local honeyeaters. It flowers from May to October and is found in calcareous sands or limestone outcrops close to the coast.
- Pompom head (Cephalipterum drummondii), a yellow and white everlasting that forms impressive drifts of colour after good winter rains. Although the head looks like a single flower, it is actually a dense collection of tiny flowers surrounded by a ring of papery bracts.
Fuchsia bush (Eremophila glabra), with red tubular flowers perfect for the long curved beaks of honeyeaters. Its scientific name means ‘desert loving’, appropriate for a plant found only in drier parts of Australia.
Shark Bay daisy (Brachyscome latisquamea)
Tamala rose (Diplolaena grandiflora)
Pompom head (Cephalipterum drummondi)
Where to see wildflowers in Shark Bay
Wildflowers are present during spring across the entire Shark Bay World Heritage Area. However, the amount of flowering will depend greatly on recent rainfall. If there have been heavy autumn or winter rains, head for areas in the east, around Hamelin Pool, where masses of everlastings and parakeelya will amaze you.
The limestone heath areas of the southwest (Edel Land, Steep Point, Nanga and Tamala Stations) can feature impressive displays of Tamala rose and Shark Bay daisy. On the Peron Peninsula golden wattles, scaevola and leschenaultia, pink thryptomene and calytrix, and blue dampiera, dianella and porana make a stunning contrast to the red sand.
Want to see Western Australia’s wildflowers? Why not plan your tour here.
For more information about Western Australian plants also check out the West Australian Herbarium’s FloraBase.